NASA is preparing for human exploration of Mars, and MOXIE will demonstrate a way that future explorers might produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere for propellant and for breathing. The MOXIE instrument is a demonstration mission, designed to prove that we can produce pure oxygen on the surface of Mars. Among many other tools, the craft carries an experimental instrument that could help astronauts in the future make roundtrip voyages to the planet. “There was a lot of iteration.”. Pairs of oxygen atoms rapidly combine to form the stable diatomic oxygen, which exits with carbon monoxide. MOXIE rides aboard the Perseverance rover, as part of the Mars 2020 mission. Site Editors: Tony Greicius, Randal Jackson, Naomi Hartono, Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE).  The Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen is collaborating with MIT to develop this prototype.  The stored oxygen could be used for life support, and can also be used as rocket propellant oxidizer to power their return trip to Earth. The MIP experiment was postponed when the 2001 Lander mission was cancelled following the failure of the 1998 Mars Polar Lander. On Thursday, NASA announced the seven instruments that will accompany Mars 2020, a planned $1.9 billion roving laboratory similar to the Mars Curiosity rover currently cruising the Red Planet. Perseverance is also bringing microphones—the first on any Mars mission. Mars’ thin atmosphere is 95 percent carbon dioxide, but sending anything back into space requires fuel, and burning that fuel requires oxygen. Members of NASA’s Mars 2020 project install the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) into the chassis of NASA’s next Mars rover. NASA's Mars 2020 rover would carry science instruments to search for past microbial life, cache rock samples, and prepare for human exploration of Mars. Humans need several times that amount to breathe, and a rocket needs about 200 times that oxygen to return home. Insulating a high temperature experiment to operate on such was tough, according to Aboobaker, who has been involved with testing MOXIE at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014. All of that stopping and starting—freezing and sweltering—is rough on the system.
The fourth question, still unanswered, wondered how we might bring all necessary resources onto Mars. On Mars, success will be somewhat unceremonious.
One idea would be to bring an empty oxygen tank and fill it up on Mars.
And NASA may commission other resource experiments, such as methane production, to make rocket fuel. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment is better known as MOXIE. The element is also critical for rocket propellant so that a spacecraft would not have to deal with the technical ramifications of carrying additional weight or landing with excess oxygen.
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